About Anna · Holidays · Thinking Out Loud

16 Things I Came To Love In 2016

Sulphur, OK

My friends, because of the amount of things that have happened in this year, and because of my lack of determination to discuss them all as they occurred throughout the year, I’ve  compiled a list of all the things I’ve come to love in 2016 year. And while this is not an exhaustive list, these things, places and people have run through every month this year.#

#1 Colored Pants

It’s a small thing, but after discovering this pin on Pinterest, in early 2016, I determined to get myself some colored pants. I found 2 pairs of solid color capris at my local consignment shop, one red-coral (I’m wearing these in the photo above) the other was a mint shade. I wore them all spring and summer. They actually do expand your possible outfit combinations and they were absolutely perfect for packing for all of my summer travels (more on that in #4.)

#2: Water

I think I’ve drunk more water this year than any other year. Just straight water, no sugar, no color, no extra flavor. I have no objective way to prove that but, I just feel like I have. It’s amazing how good water has come to taste and how good it makes me feel.

I feel like a real adult, now that I can drink tons of water, and enjoy it.

#3: Andrew Peterson

So, towards the beginning of the summer I discovered an obscure playlist created by someone I follow on Instagram. I listened to it many times during the summer. There were a few songs I liked, one song in particular, by Andrew Peterson, just seemed to contain more and more meaning every time I listened. I when I returned home at the end of the summer, I had to discover who this Andrew Peterson fellow was, and if all of his music was so rich and nuanced.

I listened a whole album on a long car ride and decided I really liked it. So far, my favorite album is Counting Stars. I love most of the songs on this album, but these are my 3 of my favorite tracks.

#4: OK

I spent 2 months serving as a short-term missionary at the Baptist Home for Girls in Oklahoma. I did a little bit of everything, but my daily objective was to build good relationships with the girls. It was the experience of a lifetime. I have so much respect for house parents and the sacrifices they make with a smile, that would make that would other people angry and bitter. They take on the huge responsibility of these little sinners whose family can’t or won’t take care of them. In some cases the responsibility is for just a short time. For others they will be involved in their lives through adulthood. They have so little control but so much influence. Their faith must be beyond that of most parents. I really can’t say it all in this post, but the girl’s home changed me, and taught me and it was the greatest experience of the year. I have so much love for the people I met there and children’s homes ministries everywhere.

At the top of Elk Mountain

#5: Mexican Bakery

My sister and I visited Huston, TX in November and our local tour guide (a resident and friend of ours) brought us to the most amazing place. It was a bakery called El Bolillo. Even if you don’t like bread (and who doesn’t?), if you ever visit Huston, you must at the very least walk in the doors and breathe in the wonderful scent of all those baked things. I also highly recommend the tortillas. 🙂

#6: LM Alcott’s Hospital Sketches

Oh, dear. What can I say. I’ve loved every one of Louisa’s books I’ve ever read. Hospital Sketches is no different. Only it might even be better than all the rest. Yes, even the famed Little Women, or the lovable Little Men. I think I can sum it up best by quoting Larry The Cucumber:

I laughed. I cried. It moved me, Bob.

I have never wept over a book like I did this little collection of stories. The list of books that made me laugh as much as this one did is quite short. And the fact that it’s at least based on true events (taken directly from the author’s experience as an army nurse) make it even better. Please listen (or read) and tell me if you agree.

If you are looking for other L.M. Alcott books to read I can recommend

Under The Lilacs 😍

Behind a Mask, or A Woman’s Power 😧

Jack and Jill 😌


#7: My Little ESV

As a graduation/ leaving for Oklahoma gift (yes I graduated with my associate degree in May) my parents gave me a beautiful little blue Bible, because my other one was beginning to wear out. I love the size especially. It was great for traveling and carrying all the time. It would be nice if the text was slightly larger, but you can’t really have a tiny Bible with Giant print, I suppose.

#8: Bullet Journaling

So, here’s another major life breakthrough. I’m actually finished a journal I started one year ago. I’ve never done that before! Furthermore it’s a bullet journal, the kind you use to plan your day, make lists, store thoughts and stick ticket stubs in. I really can’t believe I’ve used it for a whole year.

I’m the world’s worst at abandoning things before they are halfway done. I’ve heard that’s due to perfectionism. I what every page to be perfect and I want every little word and section to be filled out and complete. Maybe that’s why I’ve never been able to stick with any journal or planing device until I learned about this.

Evernote was quite intriguing and helpful for a while. Perfect for the perfectionist that feared wasted space and incorrectly categorized notes and tasks. But paper can’t run out of battery nor can take too long to load, nor does it fail to sync. I think it’s the no-need-for-perfection standards of the bullet journal, paired with the understanding of how dangerous perfectionism can be to the soul, that has made this journal a success. Today I began using a Leuchtturm 1917 notebook (a gift from my sister) as my 2017 journal.

This article is one of the most helpful ones I’ve yet read, and could have saved my whole Bullet Journal experiment. If you want to give the system a try, read it and stay away from Boho Berry stuff for at least a year.


#9: Minecraft

🙂 The is one of my guilty pleasures I suppose. Minecraft is one of those things I kept doing after starting the 21 semester hours I took last spring that just didn’t leave the list of things I wanted to do. I’ll blame my youngest brother. He got me hooked on it. But in my defense we only played on Friday nights when it was too late to study anyway. Looking back, it doesn’t seem like it was detrimental to my education. I finished all my classes on par and graduated on time and didn’t get die of exhaustion in the process.

#10: Tenzi

So while in OK my missionary buddy and I got to travel to Branson with about 5 of the girls and one set of house parents. We had a blast of a week exploring caves, riding rollercoaster(s), eating good food, seeing all kids of sites and shows, and laughing and talking a lot. On our very first night, after supper ,we happened to wander into a little souvenir shop and the lady at the cash register asked us if we wanted to play Tenzi. It’s a game where each player has ten dice, they roll them and race to get all their dice on the same number. There’s hundred of variations, your imagination is the limit, but that lady was awfully good at selling things, and she sold 3 games to our group of 9.

#11: B+BW Fragrance Mists

Also on the Branson Trip this summer we were wondering around, in and out of stores and happened into a Bath and Body Works that was having a sale on body spray. The best thing about B+BW is that they are happiest when you sample all their products, and being a group of mostly girls (poor Mr. S) we did so. We must have spent close to an hour there sniffing every body spray they had at least once. Those we liked we sniffed 2 or more times before making final decisions. My final decision was this one, and every time I smell it, it takes me back to Oklahoma.

I think the reason I like this fine fragrance mist is because it isn’t nearly as strong as perfume and doesn’t stick in your nose all day and make you sick of it.

A dear friend gave me Pink Cashmere for Christmas, and I just love it! It smells so warm and sweet.

Somewhere between Oklahoma and Missouri…

#12: Black Coffee

They say people who drink black coffee are more likely to go insane. ~A.

Call me crazy, but since I got back from Oklahoma, I actually really like black coffee. I’ve added a little cream or sugar on occasion (but only to hide the taste of a disappointingly bad cup) but the majority of what I’ve drunk since August has been black.

I really don’t know what’s come over me. Perhaps my friend A. and the rest of those wonderful young ladies at the girl’s home drove me to it. But if I were to give a reason, I would say it’s because I didn’t drink that much coffee this summer I was just craving a purer drink by the time I got back. That’s not to say I missed coffee, but there were afternoons where I could have gone for a nice rich cup, but they didn’t have much of it on campus.

#13: Girls Gone Wise In a World Gone Wild

Another item I came to love in my days at the girl’s home. One of the house-moms loaned this book to me and it was one of the best book I’ve read in a long time about womanhood. The author, Mary Kassian, compares the wild woman of Proverbs 7 to the wise woman in various other texts. It was a great book way to close out the summer. Any one who looked at me or spent any time with me would probably consider me pretty far from being ‘wild’. But as happens so often our definition of wild and God’s definition of wild, aren’t much alike. It’s a convicting read for any woman, no matter how tame her life may seem.

#14: Personality Quizzes

The intrigue began with this personally quiz I was given during training for my trip to Oklahoma. It was further stimulated by a lunch conversation with one of the cottages, and was brought to full flower by this really interesting one my sister discovered through Facebook. And it was only encouraged by this one my marketing teacher asked the class to take this fall. So, yeah. Now when I’m watching TV or just listening to people talk I’m also trying to figure out if they’re a beaver or a lion, an advocate or a commander, an expressive or an analytical.

Personally, I’m a Amiable-Golden Retriever-Mediator.


#15: WordPress

WordPress. As in the WordPress.org version. Can I just say, I may have been introduced to it in late 2015, but I had no earthly idea how awesome this Open Source Website Management software was until February or March of 2016! I’m still learning to appreciate all the great tools WP has to offer. Here are some of my favorite Themes and plugins for websites I’ve made for actual clients.

Themes: Virtue, Sydney

Plugins: Contact form 7 + Style, All-In-One WP Migration, Page Builder by Site-Origin,

At this point, I haven’t ventured out of the free stuff, and I have yet to discover a very compelling reason to while forums and my knowledge of HTML, CSS and PHP remain.

The WordPress nerd prepares for graduation

#16: Piano Game Club

My dear Piano Students, I can’t forget them! I think I’ve mentioned the most inspiring piano blog on the web. They have this awesome resource called Piano Game Club. At $8/month, for 4 printable games, I’ve decided that for even my small studio of 7 students it’s totally worth it. I signed up in October and it’s stunning how quick these kids come to expect a game at the conclusion of each lesson! Further it’s stunning how much faster they learn when they think about rhythm or notes on the staff or dynamics in a playful way.

One of my favorite things about the games is that while they reenforce music theory, they don’t require that the players have to think faster than each other to win. Most of the winning of the game is based in chance (i.e. roll of the dice, draw of a card) so even a student who just learned the concept has as good a chance of winning as the teacher.

I have some very early beginner students in my studio. I think there has been at least one game every month that I felt I could play with these students. I’ve found that even if we haven’t covered all of the content formally, they can still pick it up as we play the game together.

Happy 2017!



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